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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What I am learning about being Gluten-Free.

I would have to say that the most important thing I've learned is that (gasp) I can live without bread.  There, I've said it.  It's been viewed.  That doesn't mean that I don't really, really miss bread.  What I've also learned is that - so far - it's no problem to go without gluten-free bread.  I have not met one piece, rendition, loaf, slice, crumb or otherwise of GF bread that I can choke down.  Of course, I have just begun this journey so there is still hope that I may find a stand-in.

Another plus side to this (besides feeling better) is that I've lost weight.  I was really surprised at how many things I ate that contained gluten.  This means that the usual snack suspects were no longer on the Good To Eat List.  I am not counting Cape Cod Potato Chips here because those have become an obsession.  Those are on my Don't You Dare Eat List.  The one meal where I feel the loss of gluten most of all is breakfast.  Muffins, coffeecake, toast, scones, sigh.

So, as the saying goes around the farm, I just pulled on my Big Girl Pants and got creative.  This has had some added benefits - I am using grains and flours I've never tried before; some I've never heard of.  Sorghum flour?  Wha?  Guar gum?  er...  There is a wealth of information on the Internet at my fingertips and lots of others have paved the path towards tolerable - yes, even delicious - gluten-free food.  My biggest excitement in the breakfast arena has been rediscovering a food of my childhood.  Fried Mush.  Oooh.  Doesn't that just sound delish?  I was born and raised my first few years in Newport News, Virginia.  Both my parents had been in the Navy and my dad had finished his degree in mechanical engineering in Ohio.  Looking for work, he ended up finding a job at the shipyards in Newport News.  So, in my formative years, I was exposed to hush puppies, spoon bread, mush, and being referred to as "A Mess".  That was a big compliment back then and down there - and, although I can still be referred to as a mess on many occasions, I continue to view it as a positive comment about myself.

Back to topic.  My mother was and is a stellar cook.  My dad was exclusively the Grill Man.  But he also had some 'specialities d' Papa'.  One was fudge and the other was fried mush.  Basically, fried mush is plain speak for sauteed polenta.  I prefer fried mush - it's not pretentious.  It's a Mess.   Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  To make a mess of mush, one simply stirs cornmeal into boiling water with a little salt, stirs it until it's thick, lets it cook for a while, then takes it off the heat.  A quick smear of butter in a loaf pan, pour in the mush, let it cool, then put it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, slice and fry in butter until slightly crispy around the edges.  Serve with maple syrup.  MmmMmm.  It goes wonderfully with a couple of eggs and bacon.  Or just all by its lonesome in a small pool of real maple syrup.  Mush has given me back Breakfast.

18 comments:

  1. You've given me inspiration, too! I'm not crazy about anything cornbread-ish but I think I would like fried mush. And I know hubby would eat ANYTHING with maple syrup on it!

    So . . . how much weight have you lost by staying away from gluten? And how long have you been staying away from it?

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  2. Mama Pea - I've been off it about a month, I guess. And I've lost 7 lbs. And I feel better - as in more energy.

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  3. 7pounds you say-wow where is this gluten free book?---jk----my brother was in the navy and I remember ---- on shingles---oops-no much,in fact I don't eat breakfast.

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  4. Judy - No book, just no gluten. Or no bread, crackers, etc. That had me going for the apples instead.

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  5. OH my! I totally forgot about Fried Mush! I LOVE fried mush! I made it for the first time two years ago (after making polenta for some spanish'ish dish) and thought it was the best thing since french toast! Not sure why I forgot about it; probably because I would make the polenta on top of the wood stove & it isn't wood-stove weather yet. Thanks for the reminder! I know what WE'RE having this weekend!

    And contrats on the just doing it! I think I would die if I couldn't eat bread, but you've inspired me to maybe take it easy on the carbs at least..my waistline would thank me too!

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  6. BTW, I just realized as I was typing the above post that I was, in fact, eating a slice of fresh made bread with butter. But I HAD to! It just came out of the oven & it was TEASING me! I have zero, I mean ZERO willpower :*(

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  7. I feel your pain Susan. I have found that my favorite- red wine- gives me a migraine. Sob, sniff! Oh how can our favorite foods forsake us so?! But since a migraine is like shoving your head in a wood chipper, I must just say no. Cruel world isnt it. May you find a wonderful gluten free bread recipe. And I will need to try some mush.

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  8. Oh Susan! Being the "Bread Lady" at the Farmer's Market, I just don't think I could have a meaningful life without gluten! Good for you for sticking to your guns! :)

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  9. Good for you Susan!....a lot more people are gluten sensitive than know it. My husband hears it over and over in his practice -- people feel better AND loose weight.

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  10. Fried mush-yum, haven't had any since I was a kid. Thanks for the reminder!

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  11. I've never had fried mush for breakfast, but I've baked it topped with thick chili and cheese and it's wonderful :)

    Also - I love love love hush puppies!

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  12. I discovered a few years ago that I was allergic to wheat-just about the same as your problem. It sure does change your life. Just about everything has wheat in it. Like you, it did lead to a lot of experimentation with different grains. I discovered a passable corn bread made with quinoa and brown rice flower instead of the wheat. Do love fried mush. Rice crackers and those flavored popcorn cakes and corn tortillas are the main substitutes. There's an ethnic bakery that distributes a heavy rye loaf that's really good, but hard to slice. There is life after wheat, it's just tougher to find good things.

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  13. I can not imagine life without bread :( My deepest sympathy to you. On the other hand, who the heck doesn't like fried corn mush mess? YUM!!!

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  14. Carolyn - You are cruel! Warm bread? Butter? Why are you torturing me??? I think you need to work on that willpower, m'dear. ;o)

    Jane - If I had to give up red wine TOO, I would just shoot myself. I mean, really. How much can a person bear?

    Candy - Speaking of torture, I continue to suffer by reading all your wonderful recipes. I will never totally give up bread, though. It's not humanly possible, at least for this human.

    Dr. Momi - I think you're right. Is this something new? All these food allergies? It seems that everyone I know either suffers from or is related to someone who does suffer from a food allergy.

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  15. Hoosier Girl - It does seem like an old-fashioned kind of food, doesn't it? Perfect mush weather is fast approaching!

    Jenyfer - Ooh! That sounds good! And I am with you on hush puppies - and spoon bread!

    Trailshome - I would love that recipe if you are so inclined. I think I put my email address on the post with the giveaway winners. It isn't the end of the world, it's just a kick in the pants.

    APG - I went and whipped me up some last night. Then ran out of time this morning - so, dinner your name is mush!

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  16. Well, you never told me you used to live here in Hampton Roads, woohoo! (she says sarcastically, wishing I no longer lived here hahaha). I don't know how you are doing the gluten free thing, sounds so daunting to me, but I guess we all adapt when we have to, nice that you have lost weight in the process though, maybe I should go gluten free :)

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  17. Erin - Yes - that was before you were even a gleam in your mother's eye. My mother said it was like living in a sponge. She's not a fan of heat and humidity. I can think of so many other ways that one can lose weight. So many BETTER ways.

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  18. I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE fried mush! My dad used to make it for me on VERY special occasions. I must make some now. :)

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